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Kidney Disease/Nephrology

Nephrologists at Emerson Hospital care for patients with kidney disorders including kidney (renal) failure and chronic renal disease. They work closely with the other members of a patient’s health care team to provide complete, comprehensive care.

Dialysis treatments are available at Emerson. If kidney transplantation is necessary it is performed through Emerson’s collaboration with various hospitals in Boston and Worcester.

Kidney Disease

Located just below the ribs on either side of the spine, the kidneys are responsible for cleansing the blood, removing waste products and excess fluids and maintaining the concentration of salt and minerals. The kidneys also produce an enzyme that helps regulate blood pressure and a hormone that stimulates the development of red blood cells.

Impaired kidney function causes waste products to build up in the body, leading to swelling of the hands and feet, shortness of breath and other problems.


Acute kidney (renal) failure can be caused by an injury, infection, drugs or toxins and some pregnancy-related complications. Chronic kidney disease can result from diabetes, high blood pressure, immune diseases such as lupus, illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, drugs and toxins, genetics and congenital birth defects including malformed kidneys or urinary tract obstructions.


Kidney disease is often treated with medications to help patients manufacture red blood cells and to help maintain phosphorus and vitamin levels. A special diet can also help patients with renal disease to reduce the burden on their kidneys. Patients who have diabetes or hypertension are given medications and diets to help control blood sugar levels and blood pressure.


Advanced kidney disease is treated with dialysis, a treatment that performs the functions of your kidneys. Your nephrologist will determine which of the two types of dialysis treatment is best for you.

  • Hemodialysis uses a machine with a mechanical filter to help clean the blood.
  • Peritoneal dialysis uses the lining of a patient’s abdomen, the peritoneal membrane, to help clean the blood

Kidney dialysis increases the risk of infection and can cause other side effects on emotional well-being. Kidney transplants are sometimes an option for patients with advanced kidney failure.

Support Services and Groups

Emerson offers a wide range of community health and wellness programs and classes that can help participants learn about maintaining health or manage the stress associated with illness. A variety of stress reduction programs use approaches including mindfulness training, yoga and meditation, Tai Chi, Reiki and Qigong.


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